Sunderland’s Championship rivals Birmingham City sack Lee Bowyer as manager as Black Cats begin pre-season preparations

Sunderland have begun pre-season preparations with training matches against non-league opposition.

Here, we round-up all the latest stories that have emerged today from the Stadium of Light and beyond:

Friendly round-up

Sunderland played two training matches against non-league opposition as they began preparations for the new season.

The games, played at the Academy of Light, were only 60-minute training games.

One of these clashes saw the Black Cats come up against Vanarama National North champions Gateshead, managed by former Newcastle United defender Mike Williamson.

The game also saw former Sunderland man Kenton Richardson come up against his former side in his first outing for his new employers.

In the other clash, Sunderland played Vanarama National North side Blyth Spartans.

Sunderland manager Alex Neil (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Tommy Smith’s Boro trial

Former Stoke City defender Tommy Smith featured as a trialist for Middlesbrough during their 5-0 win over Bishop Auckland.

Smith was a goalscorer on the day tucking away an effort that was set-up by former Black Cat Duncan Watmore.

Smith, not to be confused with the former Sunderland and current Colchester United defender of the same name, is available on a free transfer having been released by Stoke City this summer.

Smith has played 240 Championship games during spells with Huddersfield Town and the Potters and would add great experience to Chris Wilder’s defence should Boro make his trial into a permanent move.

Bowyer leaves Blues

Lee Bowyer has been sacked as Birmingham City manager as speculation surrounding a potential takeover of the Blues intensifies.

Bowyer took charge at St Andrew’s in March 2021 and guided Birmingham to Championship safety during both of his campaigns in charge.

Aided by points deductions for Reading and Derby County, Birmingham finished in 20th place and ten points ahead of Peterborough who occupied the last relegation slot.

Sunderland faced Bowyer’s Charlton Athletic during their time in League One with the Addick’s, under Bowyer’s control, defeating the Black Cats in the 2018/19 League One playoff final at Wembley Stadium.

Former QPR boss Mark Warburton was tipped to be Bowyer’s replacement before he accepted a role to work alongside former Sunderland manager David Moyes at West Ham.